Monday, July 15, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Karen Witemeyer


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Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife and mother of three who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid- to late 1800s.

The following is a July 2013 interview with Karen.

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW

Be in to win one of two copies of Stealing the Preacher -- a print copy for US residents, and a digital copy (Nook or Kindle) for non-US residents. 

Contest open to entrants worldwide.

Contest runs from July 15-21 NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been married to my college sweetheart, Wes, for 21 years. We have three kids, ages 15, 13, and 11. They keep us very busy with soccer, tennis, band, math competitions, and church activities. I have a full-time day job as well, working as the Testing Coordinator for Abilene Christian University. It's great for exercising my left brain—giving ACTs, CLEP exams, and other proctored tests—leaving my right brain free for the creative demands of writing.


How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
I'd always been a bookworm, but for years I never even dared to dream about being a writer. It seemed so mysterious and far removed from normal life. After college, though, I began keeping a journal of story ideas. The dream had been born, but it was still abstract and out of reach. Then, when I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids under five, my husband learned his position at work was being eliminated. Suddenly I was faced with needing to find a way to contribute to the family income. Now was the time to take that dream off the shelf and try to make it real. Little did I know that it would be years before I saw a significant income from my efforts. Six months later, I took that Testing Coordinator job, but by then the writing bug had bitten hard. I continued pursuing the dream.

I write historical romance because it's my very favorite genre to read. From my teenage years to current day, I've read historical romance almost exclusively. When I decided to write, there was no question in my mind what genre I would choose. If you can't write what you love to read, what's the point, right?

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What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

Christian fiction ministers as well as entertains. When I decided to write romance, I knew I could never write a story with scenes that didn't honor God. I wanted to write stories that uplifted the heart and encouraged the soul all while being wrapped in a package of fast-paced plots, humorous characters, and sigh-inducing romance. This is what sets Christian fiction apart. Not just the lack of sex scenes or vulgar language, but the presence of themes that reflect God's truth and encourage the reader to mature in her own walk with the Lord.


How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?

I want readers to laugh and sigh and get lost in another world. I want to provide a short-term escape from the stress of normal life for them to live out romantic adventures through my characters and find reasons to smile. But most of all, I want their spirits to be encouraged and their faith to be deepened.

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What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?
The most meaningful responses I receive are the ones from readers who say that something in my stories changed them spiritually. For example, I had a reader tell me once that a friend of hers had turned her back on her faith but when she gave her friend a copy of my book, doors to her heart started to open again. A seed was planted that I pray God brings to fruition in her life.


How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
I've never been more keenly aware of my dependence on Christ than when I started writing. I am not a naturally creative person. I'm more of a technician. I like to follow directions. So learning the mechanics of writing came fairly easily to me. However, coming up with the ideas for characters, plots, and themes often feels like pulling teeth. The process is never easy. Yet God is so good. He provides sparks for my creativity when I need it most and inspires ideas that I could never have conjured on my own. I pray over my writing every day and know that it is only because of him that I have found of measure of success in this career. He deserves all the glory.


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Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life?

As a mother, the most important goal is to raise my children to love and serve the Lord. I also long to be a godly wife to my husband. But on a less lofty, yet no less important level, my goal is to laugh every day, to help others find joy in their lives, and to live in a way that makes God smile. Oh, and losing 20 pounds would be awesome!


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy reading, cross-stitching, playing board games with my kids, watching TV and movies, and singing.


What can you tell us about your latest novels? 

My most recent release is Stealing the Preacher. This book stands alone, yet it has a carry-over character from last year's Short-Straw Bride, Crockett Archer. In Stealing the Preacher, Crockett is abducted from a train by a gang of aging outlaws and must choose between either escaping to follow his own dreams or staying to help the daughter of his captor fulfill hers.

Since Crockett is no ordinary preacher, but a gun-toting rancher with a gift for doctoring . . . well, that meant a plot full of scrapes, trouble, and shenanigans. But amid the adventure and romance lies a heartrending tale of God's pursuit of a single lost soul.

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Stealing the Preacher

A cowboy who wants to be a preacher. An outlaw's daughter who wants to change his mind.

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can't believe it when he's forced off the train by an outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the preacher she requested for her birthday. He's determined to escape--which would be much easier if he could stop thinking about Joanna Robbins and her unexpected request.

For months, Joanna had prayed for a minister. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. But just when it seems her prayers have been answered, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett he ended up right where he was supposed to be?

With her signature blend of humor, history, and lively western romance, two-time RITA Award finalist and bestselling author Karen Witemeyer delivers a Texas love story sure to steal your heart.


A Tailor-Made Bride
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]

Head in the Clouds
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle
The Book Depository]

To Win Her Heart
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon KindleThe Book Depository]
 
Short-Straw Bride
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle |
 The Book Depository] 
Stealing the Preacher
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon KindleThe Book Depository]
 
A Match Made in Texas (4-in-1 Collection)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle |
 The Book Depository]

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What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?

My next project is actually a novella that features Neill Archer, the final brother in the Archer clan. I just couldn't let him go without giving him his own happily ever after. Away from the Archer ranch for two years to earn the money needed to start up his own spread with his childhood friend, Josiah, Neill takes a job repairing a little old widow's roof. Only the widow isn't old nor is she little. She's nine months pregnant with her deceased husband's child, and she meets Neill with a shotgun aimed at his chest.

Neill's story, A Cowboy Unmatched, will be part of a collection entitled A Match Made in Texas. It releases January 2014 and includes novellas by three other wonderful historical authors: Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Carol Cox.


A Match Made in Texas

A Delightful and Inventive Collection Showcasing Top Names in Historical Romance
In Dry Gulch, Texas, 1893, a young woman with a tender heart that longs to help those in need takes it upon herself to meddle in the affairs of three acquaintances who are in dire straits. Wanting to stay anonymous, she relies on unusual methods to hire men and women of good character who she thinks can solve the problems facing her "targets." How was she to know that her meddling would turn into a cupid's arrow? And what will she do when her friends turn the tables on her with a matchmaking scheme of their own? 

Four novellas in one volume.

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What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

Thank you! Without readers there'd be no use for writers.

I've always wanted to visit New Zealand. I love hiking along mountain trails, and from what I can tell, New Zealand seems to have some of the most spectacular scenery to be found.


Do you have any parting words?

Thank you so much for inviting me to share some of my personal story with all of you. May God's blessings be upon you this day and throughout your life.



Buy Karen's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Be in to win one of two copies of Stealing the Preacher -- 
a print copy for US residents, and a digital copy (Nook or Kindle) for non-US residents. 

Contest open to entrants worldwide.
Contest runs from July 15-21 NZDT
Entries close July 21, 2013 @ 11.59pm NZDT/8am EST/5am PST
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